Home education parents often have several concerns, one of which is that their children will develop learning gaps and subsequently fall behind their traditionally schooled peers.
Learning gaps vs Teaching gaps
Learning gaps occur when there is a difference between what children are expected to have learned by a certain grade level versus what they have actually learned up to that point. These gaps are generally caused when concepts at the foundation level are not fully understood; a child continues to struggle as new concepts are taught on top of previous ones and may eventually fall behind. Luckily, there are several practical ways to identify and target learning gaps, and several strategies to help your child overcome them.
But what about teaching gaps? Another concern of parents who consider or are already homeschooling their children, is that they won’t be able to teach their children competently, particularly as their children reach high school level or when it comes to more challenging subjects.
Top tips for filling learning gaps
The only way to bridge the teaching gap is to acknowledge what you don’t know, or what you don’t know well enough to teach responsibly. To do this you need to recognise your weaknesses, then look for ways to address them by thinking outside the traditional learning box.
So, how should you handle teaching what you don’t know?
- Take action: If you are not knowledgeable enough to teach a subject but would still like to attempt it, you have two options – you can read up ahead of each lesson to be able to teach the subject at an appropriate level or you and your child can research the topic together. Remember, even if you are your child’s main educator, you are not required to know everything about everything. It is perfectly fine to educate yourself on a topic as you go or to learn new things with your child.
- Team up: If you have other homeschooling friends or acquaintances, you can swap teaching duties. For example, if you know a parent who doesn’t like teaching languages or art but who loves teaching Maths or Technology, you can agree to teach each other’s children in specific subject areas. Such an informal exchange of services can be extremely beneficial for both parents and children.
- Try a tutor: While tutoring is often an ideal solution for children dealing with learning gaps, a skilled educator offering personalised instruction is also one of the best ways to approach teaching gaps. There are a few important factors to consider when looking for a tutor, such as subject-specific qualifications, rapport with your child and even recommendations. Here is some valuable insight on what to consider when choosing a tutor.
- Turn to technology: Technology facilitates home education in unbelievable ways. Today there are countless curriculums, courses, learning programmes, lesson plans, educational videos and more on almost any conceivable topic that you can sign up for from anywhere, at any time, via the internet – often at no cost. What’s more, technology not only lets parents tap into online resources when they face topics they are unsure of, but also encourages independent learning and allows children to reach out for help when they get stuck. In addition, online education is particularly useful in broadening children’s education in areas such as STEM and learning foreign languages.
Whether you sharpen your own skills, rely on the help of others, call in an expert or embrace technology, there is always a way to facilitate learning. Remember that nobody is an expert in every field of study. As such, don’t let what you do not know limit the home education experience for you or your children. Instead, let it inspire and motivate you to find creative ways to help your children learn and grow.